S.C. Senate passes $45 million emergency funding plan to fight COVID-19

The bill is set to be taken up in the House Thursday

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) –On Tuesday, the South Carolina Senate voted to give the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) a major boost in its fight against the coronavirus.

Lawmakers voted 42-0 to provide DHEC with $45 million from the state’s contingency reserve fund to address public health needs.

With nearly 50 positive cases of coronavirus reported in South Carolina as of Tuesday, some South Carolina lawmakers say there is no time to waste when it comes to public health.

“Our goal is to protect not only the people of South Carolina, but the staff of the Senate, the people who work here, and the members of the Senate,” said Sen. Minority Leader Nikki Setzler (D-Lexington County).

DHEC’s call for $45 million includes funding for new equipment, the distribution of educational materials, money to pay new workers at hospitals, and the expansion of quarantines if more cases are reported.

“I do feel good about what I’ve heard from the public health experts at DHEC, they seem to have a plan, it’s a reasonable plan, it makes sense to me, and they seem to be executing on it,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield County).

Lawmakers are also discussing a continuing resolution that would have the government operate under the current levels if a new budget is not agreed upon by July 1.

“This is a serious issue, we need to take it seriously, we need to let the public know that we’re taking it seriously, but we also need to let the public know that if there are issues that we need to be here, we will be here,” Sen. Massey said.

Some say it’s important for the Senate to power through and continue to serve during changing times.

“We don’t just serve in the good times, we have a responsibility in the bad times, and this is one of those times and we’ve got to be here to do what’s necessary,” said Sen. Setzler.

The emergency funding bill will get its third reading tomorrow, and then head to the House for discussion Thursday.

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